US and all ‘enemy ships’ watched Iran warns, as UK seeks ‘safe shipping’ alliance

Iran and the United States came to the brink of war last month after the Islamic Republic shot down a US drone. (File/AFP)
Updated 24 July 2019

US and all ‘enemy ships’ watched Iran warns, as UK seeks ‘safe shipping’ alliance

  • Iran says it observes all US ships in the Gulf region
  • Iran and the United States came to the brink of war last month

GENEVA/LONDON: Iran observes all US ships in the Gulf region and has an archive of images of their daily movements, the head of Iran’s navy, Rear Admiral Hossein Khanzadi, said on Tuesday, according to the Young Journalists Club news site.

“We observe all enemy ships, particularly America, point-by-point from their origin until the moment they enter the region,” Khanzadi said, noting that images were recorded using Iranian drones. “We have complete images and a large archive of the daily and moment-by-moment traffic of the coalition forces and America.”

Iran and the US came to the brink of war last month after the Islamic Republic shot down a US drone, nearly prompting a retaliatory attack which US President Donald Trump called off at the last minute

Meanwhile, the Swedish-based operator of the British-flagged tanker seized last week by Iran said on Tuesday it was still awaiting permission to visit the ship’s 23 crew members.

“We continue to focus our efforts on supporting the families of those affected in India, Russia, Latvia and the Philippines and will continue to offer full support until all 23 crew members are released and safely back with their families,” it said in a statement.

Stena Bulk added that all necessary notifications had been made for the Stena Impero’s transit of the Strait of Hormuz, which it said was carried out in full compliance with all international maritime regulations.

“We can confirm that we are not aware of, and nor is there any evidence of a collision involving the Stena Impero,” it said.

On Saturday, Iran said the tanker was seized because it had collided with a fishing boat.

On Tuesday, the UK approached EU nations to join its proposed European-led naval missions for safe shipping in the Strait of Hormuz, with France, Denmark, Italy and the Netherlands all showing strong support for the possible mission.


Will European arms ban impact Turkey’s Syria operation?

Updated 14 October 2019

Will European arms ban impact Turkey’s Syria operation?

  • Several European countries imposing weapons embargoes on Turkey

ANKARA: With an increasing number of European countries imposing weapons embargoes on Turkey over its ongoing operation in northeastern Syria, Ankara’s existing inventory of weapons and military capabilities are under the spotlight.

More punitive measures on a wider scale are expected during a summit of EU leaders in Brussels on Oct. 17.

It could further strain already deteriorating relations between Ankara and the bloc.

However, a EU-wide arms embargo would require an unanimous decision by all the leaders.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned last week of a possible refugee flow if Turkey “opened the doors” for 3.6 million Syrian refugees to go to Europe — putting into question the clauses of the 2016 migration deal between Ankara and Brussels.

“The impact of EU member states’ arms sanctions on Turkey depends on the level of Turkey’s stockpiles,” Caglar Kurc, a researcher on defense and armed forces, told Arab News.

Kurc thinks Turkey has foreseen the possible arms sanctions and stockpiled enough spare parts to maintain the military during the operation.

“As long as Turkey can maintain its military, sanctions would not have any effect on the operation. Therefore, Turkey will not change its decisions,” he said.

So far, Germany, France, Finland, the Netherlands and Norway have announced they have stopped weapons shipments to fellow NATO member Turkey, condemning the offensive.

“Against the backdrop of the Turkish military offensive in northeastern Syria, the federal government will not issue new permits for all armaments that could be used by Turkey in Syria,” German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas told German newspaper Bild am Sonntag.

Following Germany’s move, the French government announced: “France has decided to suspend all export projects of armaments to Turkey that could be deployed as part of the offensive in Syria. This decision takes effect immediately.”

While not referring to any arms embargo, the UK urged Turkey to end the operation and enter into dialogue.

Turkey received one-third of Germany’s arms exports of €771 million ($850.8 million) in 2018. 

According to Kurc, if sanctions extend beyond weapons that could be used in Syria, there could be a negative impact on the overall defense industry.

“However, in such a case, Turkey would shift to alternative suppliers: Russia and China would be more likely candidates,” he said.

According to Sinan Ulgen, the chairman of the Istanbul-based EDAM think tank and a visiting scholar at Carnegie Europe, the arms embargo would not have a long-term impact essentially because most of the sanctions are caveated and limited to materials that can be used by Turkey in its cross-border operation.

“So the arms embargo does not cover all aspects of the arms trade between Turkey and the EU. These measures look essentially like they are intended to demonstrate to their own critical publics that their governments are doing something about what they see as a negative aspect of Turkey’s behavior,” he told Arab News.

Turkey, however, insists that the Syria operation, dubbed “Operation Peace Spring,” is undeterred by any bans or embargoes.

“No matter what anyone does, no matter if it’s an arms embargo or anything else, it just strengthens us,” Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu told German radio station Deutsche Welle.